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In the Case of My Brother's Keeper, Race Does -- and Should -- Matter
Townhall.com ^ | March 5, 2014 | Jonah Goldberg

Posted on 03/05/2014 5:30:20 AM PST by Kaslin

President Obama announced last week a new race-based initiative, My Brother's Keeper.

According to the White House, the program will coordinate government agencies and private foundations to help young men and boys of color. "Of color" basically means blacks and Latinos. In fact, it's pretty obvious the program is aimed at young black men.

This fact has invited some conservative criticism. The Weekly Standard's Terry Eastland notes that the program is likely unconstitutional. Doling out benefits explicitly based on race is generally a no-no, according to the Supreme Court

Even more frowned on: discrimination against women. The program will categorically exclude women and girls. In 1996, when the court (wrongly, in my opinion) ordered the historically single-sex Virginia Military Institute to admit women, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ruled that blanket sex-based discrimination requires an "exceedingly persuasive justification."

For me, My Brother's Keeper meets that bar. The statistics are gloomy and familiar: 1 out of 15 black men is behind bars; 1 out of 3 can expect to be incarcerated at some point in his life.

The simplistic talk about how this is all the result of white racism misses the scope and nature of the problem. The vast majority of interracial violent crime is black on white. But most violent crime is actually intra-racial (i.e., black on black or white on white). Still, blacks are far more likely to die from homicide; half of murder victims are black, which may partly explain why black men in prison have a higher life expectancy than black men out of prison. And this leaves out all of the challenges -- educational, economic, etc. -- facing black men that don't show up in crime statistics.

Roger Clegg, president of the Center for Equal Opportunity, also thinks the program is unconstitutional because there is no "compelling" government interest here: "It may be that a disproportionate number of blacks and Latinos are at-risk, but many are not, and many whites, Asians and others are. This is just another kind of 'profiling.'"

Yes and no. Obviously there are at-risk youth of all races, but the problems facing young black men are so disproportionate, the difference of degree becomes a difference in kind. Yet, I also think Clegg is obviously right that this is another kind of profiling.

There's an intriguing double standard that tangles up the right and the left. We're told it is outrageous for government to assume that a young black male (in some contexts) is more likely to commit a crime; we're also told that government should target young black men for help because they are more likely to commit crimes. Most liberals hate law enforcement profiling but support -- for want of a better term -- social justice profiling. For conservatives, it's vice versa (though Clegg opposes both kinds of profiling, it's worth noting). Yet the empirical arguments for positive and negative profiling are the same: The plight of young black men is different.

Clegg says that the initiative should be aimed at all at-risk males. Maybe that would be ideal -- on paper. The hitch is that a program that appeals to all young males may not be as effective as one that focuses on young blacks in particular. Relatively benign appeals to racial solidarity and pride by definition don't work on groups of different races.

The point is even more obvious when you consider sex differences. A strong male role model can tell boys to "act like a man" in ways women can't. Sure, a woman can say the words, but she can't be a man. For some boys, particularly ones without fathers at home (the majority of at-risk youths), that's still a huge distinction.

That's why I agree with those liberals who think Obama should have done more sooner for young black men. It may be irrational in a legalistic sense, but in human terms it is utterly obvious that the first black president of the United States -- raised by a single mother no less -- might have special standing with at-risk black youth.

Real life happens outside the neat boundaries of rigid legalisms. It also happens upstream of government. I'm very skeptical this program will do much to fix the deeper problems, but if it causes Obama to focus on them, it's probably worth it.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS: blackcommuninity; blackunemployment; racialequalitity

1 posted on 03/05/2014 5:30:21 AM PST by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin

How many hundreds of millions of dollars will this cost?


2 posted on 03/05/2014 5:35:15 AM PST by AD from SpringBay (http://jonah2eight.blogspot.com/)
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To: Kaslin
"Real life happens outside the neat boundaries of rigid legalisms."

I suppose lawlessness happens outside the neat boundaries of rigid legalisms, too. Jonah is saying ignore the law.

3 posted on 03/05/2014 5:35:22 AM PST by PghBaldy (12/14 - 930am -rampage begins... 12/15 - 1030am - Obama's advance team scouts photo-op locations.)
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To: Kaslin

The real question is: Why is the federal government worrying about boys who misbehave in their own communities?


4 posted on 03/05/2014 5:37:31 AM PST by Atlas Sneezed ("Income Inequality?" Let's start with Washington DC vs. the rest of the nation!)
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To: Kaslin

Just another way of paying reparations.


5 posted on 03/05/2014 5:38:10 AM PST by Graybeard58 (God is not the author of confusion. 1 Cor 13: 33)
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To: AD from SpringBay
How many hundreds of millions of dollars will this cost?

How many hundreds of millions Billions of dollars will this cost?

How many millions trillions of dollars will this cost?

(there, fixed it)

6 posted on 03/05/2014 5:46:07 AM PST by BwanaNdege
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To: Kaslin

Ex-Black Panther leader freed 4 decades after being convicted of killing Baltimore officer

Published March 04, 2014

| Associated Press

BALTIMORE – A former leader of the Black Panthers has been released from prison more than four decades after being convicted of killing a Baltimore police officer.

Sixty-seven-year-old Marshall “Eddie” Conway was freed from the prison in Jessup on Tuesday. It came after state prosecutors agreed to change his life sentence to time served and probation.

Conway is one of dozens of inmates who have been released after Maryland’s Court of Appeals ruled in 2012 that judges had given improper instructions to juries before 1980.

Conway was convicted in 1971 of fatally shooting 35-year-old Donald Sager as Sager and another officer sat in a marked patrol car in April 1970.

He has always denied any participation in the attack.


7 posted on 03/05/2014 5:48:21 AM PST by KeyLargo
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To: Kaslin
A rare misstep by Jonah.

This initiative is an unconstitutional and therefore ultra-vires use of taxpayer money.

Moreover: it won't focus government's attention to real problems - it will focus government's attention onto a new pile of money to appropriate, apportion and steal.

Worse - the underlying problems not only won't be dealt with, they will be subsidized and become even more entrenched and impervious to change.

That's why Obama is keen to make it happen. He gets to steal more money from taxpayers and spend it on his cronies, while making the AA culture even more toxic.

'My Brothers Keeper' will be another wealth transfer from the taxpayers to the Democrat party coupled with toxic infantilization of Blacks.

8 posted on 03/05/2014 5:50:31 AM PST by agere_contra (I once saw a movie where only the police and military had guns. It was called 'Schindler's List'.)
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To: Kaslin

Close the monetary incentives to have children out of wedlock, then see how quickly the recipients of said incentives learn to close their legs. It’s the culture of dependency and fatherless homes that’s the wellspring of the problem.


9 posted on 03/05/2014 5:51:25 AM PST by Ancient Man
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To: Graybeard58

Nailed it!


10 posted on 03/05/2014 6:11:26 AM PST by Fireone (Impeach and imprison, NOW! Treason and murder are still crimes.)
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To: Kaslin
Goldberg makes the mistake of assuming that the targets of this Federal programs (and countless other efforts involving both government and non-profit groups) are just "at-risk" people who can be "fixed" with some kind of external intervention like this.

This ignored the bigger question that nobody wants to talk about: These people are unassimilated minorities who simply do not fit in our society and probably never will. What is their future in a modern nation like the United States of America?

11 posted on 03/05/2014 7:01:54 AM PST by Alberta's Child ("I've never seen such a conclave of minstrels in my life.")
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To: Kaslin

What about half black/half white males? Do they qualify? Would Obama have qualified?

Throwing money at this problem might help a few but the only way to truly address this issue is to address the decaying culture. And that’s going to be nearly impossible in this country these days.


12 posted on 03/05/2014 7:29:05 AM PST by Paco
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